July 30, 2021 - Superintendent's Summer Update


AAPS lead, care, inspire graphicSuperintendent Summer Update
Friday, July 30, 2021

Hello AAPS Students and Staff, Families and Community, 

I hope that you are enjoying a good and healthy summer, 2021. 

The purpose of this Superintendent Summer Update is to provide general information and updates for our students and staff, families and community in the areas of: 

  • Full Fall reopening of all schools, 2021-22, 
  • Summer learning, activities,
  • Fall COVID Health and Safety Guidelines,
  • AAPS Extended Day Program Updates, and
  • Preparations for Back-to-School and Next Steps in August

As we approach this 2021-22 school year, now just one month away, it is a time of tremendous opportunity; we are excited to come together with our students and staff, families and community for this time of reconnection, care, and learning as we focus on our 18,000 students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools and in our Ann Arbor community. 

You may prefer to view a video of this message here.

Full Reopening of Schools, Fall 2021

We look forward to welcoming all our students to return to in-person school on August 30th. We are reopening our schools fully and we will continue to have our schools remain open throughout this 2021-22 school year. 

For this reason, it is important for our parents, who may have concerns about their children participating in in-school classes this fall to understand that quality AAPS virtual options will continue to be available this year. Parents may learn more about virtual learning opportunities at: a2schools.org/a2village

Summer Learning Activities, 2021

With approximately 8,000 students participating across the AAPS this summer, in academic, arts, and Rec & Ed summer camps, classes or sports learning, we have achieved a great ‘running start’ on reopening our schools, and the excitement is building across our community for fall back-to-school, 2021.

We are enjoying a busy and productive summer as more than 4,000 students are participating in Summer Learning, 2021 activities, including:

  • recovery services for students served by an IEP, specialized learning needs; 
  • students who are English language learners; 
  • elementary and middle school academic skills programs, including math and literacy; 
  • bridge programs to prepare students for high school; 
  • credit recovery and advancement in all subject areas; 
  • SAT prep classes, and 
  • music and performing arts camp opportunities. 

In addition, more than 3,700 P12 students are participating in a full offering of popular Rec & Ed summer camps, classes, or sports that continue every week throughout this summer. 

COVID Health & Safety Guidelines, Fall, 2021

As we have from the beginning of this pandemic, we will continue to hold the health and safety of our students and staff, parents and community as our utmost priority.

Vaccination

We understand the most powerful tool we have available against the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination, and we strongly encourage everyone who qualifies to get the vaccine, as every shot in arms supports improved health and safety for our students, staff, families and community as we return to school this fall.

CDC guidance states, “Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.”

As a result, we strongly encourage all who are able to do so, to please take the critical step of COVID vaccination. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective, and free and are readily available at many locations in the community. https://www.washtenaw.org/3337/Where-to-Get-the-COVID-19-Vaccine

All staff and contractors who work in the AAPS will be expected to affirm their full COVID-19 vaccination status (by providing the date of the second injection or scanning the vaccine card), or must agree to COVID test weekly during this school year.

Universal Masking

In continuing our priority of health and safety, and in keeping with recent  recommendations of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, we will require masks indoors inside our AAPS school campuses for all students, staff and visitors. 

A simple step - wearing our masks while indoors - provides another layer of protection to  improve overall health and safety and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community this fall. 

In maintaining our attention to two key strategies, vaccination and universal masking indoors, we can all feel more comfortable and confident that we are doing our part to keep our schools healthy and safe, particularly for those children under age 12 who are not yet able to receive vaccination. 

We will be sharing more details of the Fall 2021 COVID health and safety plan over the coming days of August, yet I wanted you to have this important information directly from me today. 

AAPS Extended Day Program Update

This spring and summer, we have continued intense work to develop the AAPS Extended Day Program, redesigning the program to support a COVID safe, smaller cohort group, extended day setting for our students, including before and after school care and after school enrichment programs across our 21 AAPS elementary and K8 schools. As always, our AAPS schools will continue to be very busy neighborhood hubs with activities focused on serving and supporting our students, families, and community beyond the school day. 

Progress has occurred in these areas:

  • Opened Before and After School Extended Day Care, five days per week AM & PM - at five schools,
  • Adapted COVID safe agreements with longtime AAPS extended day care partners, CDC & King Care to continue with five days per week AM & PM care  - at three schools,
  • Extended time for after school enrichment program classes to better meet the needs of working parents - most classes will end at 5:30 PM, instead of the previous 5:00 PM
  • Increasing and aligning compensation for extended day entry positions, and
  • Developed an after school version of Rec & Ed’s popular “Let’s Play!” program from the 2020-21 school year. Hiring for the program is occurring now, and classes will be added as staffing allows.
  • Work continues with new community partners who responded to a Request for Information posting earlier this summer to express interest in offering extended day programming in our schools. More information will be shared soon about inspiring additional community - schools partnerships to serve AAPS children with even more after school enrichment opportunities.
  • Share the word about AAPS Extended Day Program job openings, information at a2schools.org.

In early August, Rec & Ed will post information on more than 40 extended-time after school enrichment classes located at elementary and K8 buildings. These classes will be offered from the end of the school day to 5:30 PM. All schools will have extended day opportunities -  at least 3 days of enrichment classes per week available in most schools - with themes including art, chess, languages, sports, science, drama, and more. Scholarships in the form of fee waivers will be available to families with financial need. The Rec & Ed team is continuing  to work with community partners to add more after school programming throughout the year.   

Parents will be able to sign up for these enrichment classes in the same way as always, at aareced.com,   and an announcement will be shared across the district when registration is opened during August. 

With these efforts, AAPS will offer morning and afternoon extended day care, five days per week in eight schools and many after school enrichment programming opportunities until 5:30 PM at our elementary and K8 buildings.  

We all understand the need for extended day support for our children and working families, and will continue to work vigorously to develop these extended day programs, dependent on the ability to add staff. - Information about the Extended Day Enrichment classes will be posted on the aareced.com website in early August, with registration opening later in the month.

How You Can Help

We have heard from many in our community who want to help with this important effort to provide extended day programming across the AAPS. We are sharing two steps that you can consider to help:

  • Share the word of our AAPS job openings in our Extended Day Programs
    Positions are posted a2schools.org, and
  • The AAPS has long offered scholarships for families for extended day care and enrichment classes, and we will continue and expand this endeavor during this school year. If you would like, you may donate to help families who need scholarship support by calling (734) 994-2300.

Preparations for Back-to-School and Next Steps

You will notice lots of activity occurring around our schools, as we have significant improvement projects currently underway this summer at several locations, and physical renewal work is in-progress at every one of our AAPS campuses. 

It is an exciting time of opportunity in the Ann Arbor Public Schools as we come together as a community to ‘turn the page’ to the beginning of a brand new school year, 2021-22 and the full reopening of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. 

Welcoming our students, teachers, support staff and leaders as they reconnect within the in-person, in-school class setting represents a tremendous step forward from this COVID time. Truly, we are stronger together. 

Soon, the sights and sounds of happy students learning, playing and growing together under the expert guidance of our amazing AAPS teachers and team will be a part of the rhythm of our daily lives again, marking our next promising steps forward, together as a community. 

We will continue our weekly updates through the month of August, sharing more detailed information each week, and look forward to seeing all our students on Monday, August 30th, 2021!

Thank you for all your support of our 18,000 students, of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and our Ann Arbor community.   

Sincerely,

Swift signature

Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools